Well, well, what a great way to kickoff the NCAA College Football season! Such intensity, such great passion, it was just so invigorating!
...ok, maybe not... more like "What a pathetic game, by both teams, in all aspects of the game".
::First off, it was great to see Toney Baker back after missing virtually two seasons with this injuries.
:Josh Czajkowski returns and continues to kick well.
::Russell Wilsons streak continued.
The Good:Diamonds in the Rough...
*Russell Wilson continued his streak towards Andre Woodsons record for the most consecutive pass attempts without an interception. He still has a ways to go, but he's protecting the ball well. USC scored when they recovered the NCState fumble, shows how important keeping possesion is.
*Toney Baker looked surprisingly healthy (outside of the first carry). They later hit him with a short screen pass in which he made the first man miss, and later sidestepped his way through a whole on the line of scrimmage and showed us the burst that he still has from his High School days, where he still holds the All-Time North Carolina high school record for career rushing yards.
*Good Defense. [To an extent]They only gave up 7 points, and held their ground late in the game and deep on their side of the field, something that plagued them last season. I liked the pressure, and the stunts they used to get to Garcia, but the containment wasn't there and couldn't hold him inside. Nate Irving was great at keeping QB's at bay[last season], Garcia running allowed them to extend drives, and wear down the defense. Don't forget they did this without Irving, Morgan, and with a group of very young DB's.(Bytheway:Great job by R.Smith, he was maybe the only defensive player outside of Cole that was really throwing his body around, and sticking his nose hard into the action. ALTHOUGH I think they dropped the Lineman (Young and McKeen) into coverage way to much...
*Involving TJ Graham well, its good that they looked his way, and really tried to utilize his skills, but he didn't decide to show up.... dropping multiple balls. Good effort on the part of the Offensive coordinator Bible, poor effort on Grahams part...
The Bad:Could easily be improved....
*133 Yards of offense is just pathetic, not sure who to blame, they're all at fault for this. Eric Norwood(LB, USC) played a solid game, but Wilson just wasn't himself until desperation sat in, late in the game. With all the hype surrounding this team and their potential, this is just a pitiful effort showing, it wasn't even an effort.
*Offensive Line now, I know that Vermiglio was out, but the ENTIRE left side of the line was 2, no, 3 steps slower than USC's defensive line. Players were constantly beating them around the end, with very little resistance, and Wilson never stepped up in the pocket, just dropped back and either sat there, or barely put in the effort to scramble away from pressure(knee maybe still bothering him?)
*Russell Wilsons Big Play was absent this game. Last season they would try a deep ball to Owen Spencer here, and a 15yd crossing route to Jarvis Williams there, but that was completely ignored last night. Again, he went to the checkdown to quickly. He went deep twice and had success, One was called back due to the Offensive line penalty, and the other allowed Spencer to have room to run after the catch and gained 15 yds. Then the poor effort by Williams in the endzone...
*South Carolina Rushed for 107yds!?... thats pathetic in itself.
*Poor tackling... Justin Byers, good kid, but everytime he wants to "Lay the Wood" on someone, rather than sure up the tackle.That along with injuries, made him sit out some of last year Just flying around throwin' your body into people works sometimes, but you'll just bounce of a good running bakc, or a physical receiver. He and Audie Cole and Byers had Tori Gurley stopped for a big loss one smoke route, just ran in there, lowered his head, and just wanted to hit him, rather than tackle him. We all love to see the big hit, but make sure the guy will go down first. Also , you let Stephen Garcia hurdle your defense!!??!!?? Thats never a positive thing... =/
*Dropped Passes, haven't they had ALL offseason to work on this problem... Well it didn't improve, with just barely better than a .50% completion rating for Wilson. Jarvis Williams put in a good effort in diving for the fingertip ball, it is absolutely inexcusable why a DB who you have a GREAT height advantage over should beat you to a jump ball in the endzone! Get position on him, get up there and grab the football at your highest point, don't let them get position on you and NEARLY make an interception. Good effort on breaking it up on the way down, but how about you catch it so you don't put yourself and your team into that spot next time!?.... There is no GOOD reason why they dropped as many balls as they did, thru the hands, juggle and drops, two dropped in the endzone, and no effort to go hard accross the middle 10-12yd range.
*Russell Wilson I know, I had him in the "Good", but he just seemed to play the whole game slow, and afraid to either test his knee, or afraid to test the coaching staff and run for a gain. He was chased down from behind 2 or 3 times yesterday by Lineman and Linebackers, and last year he just had this top level of speed to just get away from defenders, and I'm really afraid his knee might still be bothering him. Also being chased from behind results in turnovers, very luck that ball rolled out of bounds, rather than Norwood gaining full possession.
*TJ Graham I've been his biggest supporter, in wanting to see him get more involved in the offense, but in doing so, he dropped the first 3 passes that came his way(good diving effort on one), but the other two were inexcusable.
*BLOCKED PUNT!?... pathetic, then go to the ineffective but safe rugby style punt....
Rashard Smith showed great athletic ability and has good instinct trying to get into the passing lanes of the opposing QB's.
James Washington has great top speed, and is a smaller, and quicker than Jamelle Eugene, and Toney Baker. He was in during, basically, their only real successful drive..
Steven Howard showed solid hands... Him and George Bryan would be the only men I trust right now.
Owen Spencer virtually absent, even though he was much bigger than the opposing DB's, and has trackstar type speed...
Josh Czajkowski tied a career long FG last night with a 42 yarder, and he cleared it fairly well, still hitting the mesh in the back. Could've made it from 47-49 yds.
DT's/DE's quiet game from McKeen, and Michael Alan-Cash, and Willie Young was dominate like the coached had hoped, but still plated a solid game.
Onto Murray State, and Gardner-Webb. Good time for Wilson to get back up to speed, and the offense better show up, otherwise Gardner Webb may pull out the upset =O!
Wouldn't that be a terrible way to start the season.
Overall the game wasn't THAT bad, alot of mental errors and mistakes that can easily be fixed to improve this team. Although they didn't live up to peoples expectations in this first game, they have the two weeks to improve, get healthy, and return to play a tough game against Pittsburgh. I find it hard to believe that a team with this much offensive potential can only amass 3 pts. v. USC, and i highly doubt that will repeat this season.